The Me-Ification Of Search And Social

Chris Copeland wants to be #1. Correction: Chris Copeland knows that Chris Copeland is already an expert, a search and social marketing guru, but he wants Google to know that he is all of that and for Google to give him the self-glorifying satisfaction that comes with one thing: Chris Copeland ranking #1 in the Googgle search results for the term Chris Copeland.

 I am personally excited because I have my sights set on not just being #1 for me, Chris Copeland, in the engines, but am now turning my focus toward the self-gratification that comes with having the most Twitter followers that hang on my every self-serving and validating 140 burst of brilliance from my @SearchBoss handle.  

Actually, the paragraphs above have almost not a word of truth in them, but they do make a point - one that seems to have been lost in the gold rush surrounding the latest digital trend. You see, if you asked me to describe my personal philosophy, it would be more "Act like you have been there" than "I'm a Golden God." But, apparently somewhere in the last few years, that philosophy came to mean that I wasn't old-school, just old -- at least in our industry.

My job is not about building the brand of Me first. If the adage is true that you can't take it with you, I have to believe that goes beyond the material possessions to the immaterial of the social sphere. I only need a retweet from St. Peter at the pearly gates when the time comes -- not from 1,000 of spambots before I leave this world.  

I'm not a rocket scientist or doing brain surgery every day, but what we do in advertising does have a purpose and a meaning. If you care about this business, then you approach your job with a hearty desire to impact the masses - not with your self-fulfilling messages, but rather by connecting consumers with brand and being relevant. It's not Don Draper sexy 99.44% of the time, but it has its moments.

People in the business of search and social have confused promotion of ideas and material performance with promotion of self. They are measuring their impact by follower counts and printed and spoken self-references. Let's be clear that this problem is not an epidemic, but more prevalent than ever before.

Some people have "the goods," and earn respect by the way they handle their business and their unflinching willingness to do the right thing to ensure success. And then there are so-called experts who now advise others on how to construct programs to maximize follower counts and enhance rankings through the superficial and timely with a kind of excess that would make a Kardashian weep with jealousy.  

Years ago, I used to joke that people would attend a search conference for four days and suddenly become qualified to hang out a shingle and go into business as a consultant. The acceleration of technology has been such, that in the social media space you can seemingly skip the conference, hit a couple of websites, gorge your Twitter account with meaningless followers chasing keyword-laden tweets, and bypass doing any work.  

If Chris Copeland ends up #1 on Google or Bing as a result of an article that celebrates Chris Copeland, written by Chris Copeland, then so be it. That's the way the game is played today, and I can handle that. But, while others are worried about being experts in self, the Zen of Me, the tao of I, I'm worried about next. And next isn't about me; it's about a platform in a garage or dorm room -- and it's certainly not being developed by someone tweeting how friggin' cool it's going to be when finished.

Look at the great digital successes of the past decade, and you see companies that have reached the top by doing the work first -- not by talking about it. Someday Chris Copeland will walk away from advertising - and, like a majority of the folks in this industry, there will be no highlight reel on the work I did for me. The people, the work, the recognition from others will speak for me far better than anything I can say about me, Chris Copeland.

4 comments about "The Me-Ification Of Search And Social".
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  1. Frank Reed from Marketing Pilgrim, March 9, 2011 at 2:22 p.m.

    Amen, Chris. Just imagine how loud Austin is about to get as everyone goes around talking about themselves at SXSW! The harvest is big but the workers are few for sure.

    The social media industry will go through the same growing pains as search as many will be ripped off and will become disillusioned. The speed of change and the ability to 'fake it even if you never make it' in the Internet world will eventually slow the pace of progress down to something a little more manageable that will allow true talent to rise to the top.

    Well, I sure hope it does at least because otherwise this could suck for some time to come!

  2. Eddie Smith from Topsy Labs, March 9, 2011 at 8:26 p.m.

    Hi Chris, Eddie Smith with Topsy Labs here.
    It's interesting to think about building our own brand, but I think what matters relative to building our authority with search engines is understanding how a search engine will calculate a quality score about you related to the query being done.
    As a quick example, you may have a lot of authority for the term "social search", but not a lot of authority for the term "scuba". (Unless you tweet a lot about scuba diving.)
    We capture the notion of authority, down to they keyword level within twitter based upon a user's ability to get other people to take action on their communication. Authority, or influence as we call it, is based not upon the number of followers you have but based upon your ability to get other people to take action (retweet, comment, etc) on the communications you make. We use influence to help us rank results, and this method is quite effective at both bubbling up high quality content to the top of search results as well as removing spam. We just had a whitepaper posted by SearchEngineLand here and I'd welcome your feedback.

  3. Liz Tahawi from Liz Tahawi, March 9, 2011 at 9:07 p.m.

    Modified Bumper Sticker: Who is Chris Copeland and why is he following me?

  4. Brad Stewart from Molecule Inc., March 10, 2011 at 1:23 p.m.

    Hi Chris. I just wanted you to know firstly that I loved this article/experiment. I'll be linking to it in this Friday's Search Insider in my monthly column! Hopefully this will help you achieve your goal. ;)

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